Talking Combat 112: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? - Roll For Combat

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Talking Combat 112: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 112: Nice Planet You Got There…

I’m going to go a little off the beaten path this week.

The adventure itself is Part 2 of “Seth Introduces Himself”. It’s fun and all, but there’s not a lot to write about the action itself. We poked a few more rooms with a stick. Huzzah!

What is slightly more interesting is the potential upcoming moral dilemma Tuttle and I find myself in at this point. As I was listening to this week’s show, I was struck by the fact that we’ve now had THREE of the five party members make some sort of joke about keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves. And I’m not totally sure how I should feel about that – both as a player and a character.

Well, that’s not true. Jason the Player thinks that’s a bad idea. When it comes to these games, I like being one of “The Good Guys”. I’m not a big fan of moral ambiguity. I think the most “bad” character I ever played had a mild thievery streak from growing up poor on the streets (particularly with regards to food items). As an aside, I’m equally terrible at this in video games. When I play the “bad” option in games like Mass Effect, I actually feel guilty for being rude to what amounts to a computer-driven story point. DID I HURT YOUR NON-EXISTENT FEELINGS, LINES OF CODE? (pats console on what I imagine to be its head)

So OK… Jason the Player definitely doesn’t want the party to go rogue. I’m a softie at heart. We’ve established that.

But how would Tuttle respond to that? That’s the real question. Alignment-wise he’s Lawful Neutral, so he doesn’t have the +1 Yoke of Goody-Two-Shoes around his neck, but he does subscribe to some general sense of law-based ethics. I do think if he wanted to keep the Stellar Degenerator, it would be to study the science behind it rather than to turn a profit, but the lawful side of him might fall more in the “there are some things man wasn’t meant to know” camp. WHY DOES GOD NEED A STARSHIP?

Also, let’s remember that there are other ways for Tuttle to scratch that itch. The “Foundry” building back on Istamak had TONS of data modules that we didn’t really look at because we were trying to find our specific bread-crumb. But an entire library of artifacts of a civilization arguably more advanced than the Pact Worlds? Even without a working Stellar Degenerator, that’s Tuttle’s wildest dream come true. Tuttle could destroy the Stellar Degenerator, go lead a research team back to Istamak, and STILL flood the academic airwaves with papers for years based on the contents of that building. For that matter, the remnants of the defense systems – depending on how thoroughly the battle with the Corpse Fleet destroyed them – could possibly also be mined for science without having to release a planet-destroying superweapon into the wild.

(And hey, maybe he could get a date with the female ysoki we pretty much forgot about and abandoned in a locked room back on Moon Six. You know… assuming she’s still alive. And also not as crazy as her brother.)

Now we get to the other question… how much should I treat their jokes as in-game vs. out-of-game? We’ve had at least three people (Rusty, Akiro, Hirogi) express SOME sort of interest in keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves.

BUT.

The nature of this episode (and last week’s) walked a little bit of a fuzzy line on whether it was the players or the characters talking. If it was Seth and Chris joking about extracting ransom from planets… then Tuttle may or may not know his teammates are planning on a heel turn. (He may think they’re untrustworthy for other reasons, but those particular statements would be inadmissible in Roleplaying Court.) Also, maybe it really is just joking and they’re going to do the right thing when the time comes. But if it was Akiro and Hirogi saying it… then I have to decide what my plan is going to be in response to that.

And that doesn’t even take Rusty into account. With Rusty, there’s the added dimension of his persuasive powers. How does that play? If Akiro or Hirogi talk about it… they don’t have a lot of guile to them, so Tuttle would know not to trust them. But Rusty is another matter. Is Tuttle even aware enough to know that Rusty can’t be trusted? In which case, maybe I should plan a failsafe that Rusty can’t talk him out of. Or is Rusty just that good and Tuttle doesn’t suspect a thing? We have also seen Rusty lie to OTHER people, so we can’t be so naïve as to think he couldn’t do that to us… could we?

And then, let’s say all of this comes to pass and Tuttle decides his teammates are truly thinking of using the Stellar Degenerator for their own malfeasance? What do I actually do about that? Certainly, I can’t outfight the rest of the party, though maybe if Mo was on my side…. Since I’m good with computers and engineering, could I rig something to destroy the Stellar Degenerator that they couldn’t counter? And then that steps back out of the game and gets into player agency – if I do something like that, am I hogging the story and trying to make the ending all about me? (But if they’re talking about stealing a planet-killer, aren’t they already making the story about them?)

The funny thing is: as I’m reading this, I realize I sound TOTALLY paranoid, and you’re probably imagining me sitting at some murder-board with pictures and strings connecting them. And to an extent that’s true, but it’s in a good roleplaying way. None of this is directed at Bob or Chris or Seth as people. It’s all directed at their characters and “thinking out loud” how my character should respond to their moves. If I can throw on my pretentious scarf and beret… “creative process”. So I think it’s a good thing for the game as a whole. Must be the Plaguestone rubbing off on me.

So that’s basically it for this week. Not much happened in the game itself, and I spent the week whipping myself into a frenzy thinking about how the endgame might play out. Not quite 14,000,003 possibilities, but quite a few. Next week I promise we get introductions out of the way and get back to the adventure at hand. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show and join the merriment in general. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.